My Mark Harrigan (for 4+ years) Guide, Expert Difficulty v11

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Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
Machete Mark, Standard Difficulty 0 0 0 1.0
Friendship Bracelet Mark v4 2 1 0 1.0
My Mark Harrigan (for 4+ years) Guide, Expert Difficulty v12 12 7 1 2.0

LordHamshire · 679

I play Expert difficulty Arkham campaigns multiple times a week and have never played nor thought about an investigator more than Mark. Mark Harrigan is a very powerful Guardian on Expert where you want a four above the target. I've been playing him for years now and so I'd like to think I've learned what works on him and what doesn't. With support Vincent Lee alongside a dedicated clue grabber, this deck is strong as any. Any time a new batch of player cards is released, I'll update this and I'll be playing Mark in a lot of campaigns soon so I wouldn't be surprised if my anecdotal experience has me adjusting the list somewhat. It's important to note here at the outset that this is a guide for a four-investigator group, you'd build Mark a tad different in smaller parties.

Mulligans. I'll put this here for people who just wanna assemble the deck and play today. Unless you're playing "Riddles and Rain" or something, just mulligan for a .45 Thompson. It's really no big deal if you don't find it, you'll draw two or three cards a turn.

How To Use Sophie and His Investigator Card's Ability. You need to construct your deck such that you can forget that Mark has this ability. You shouldn't rely on it, because flipping Sophie is a nightmare and Shell Shock will defeat you at least once if not multiple times in a campaign. That being said, it's extremely powerful and you will elect to use it on key checks, wherein you can draw off his , and it's all very clutch and powerful. You can be more liberal with it if you have an ally with healing like Vincent Lee or put more sources of healing in the deck, but I find that these are very inefficient uses of deck slots and action economy. Hallowed Mirror is great, Second Wind is solid, but there isn't much else worth your time. He would love something like Bandages, but doesn't have access to them.

General Advice. On Expert, do not build Arkham Horror decks for what they will be when they have experience. Theory crafting is fun, but all Arkham Horror campaigns are designed to reward success immediately which will avalanche into more success and so on. I could make a deck that evolves into something more powerful, but it is unrealistic when rubber hits the road on Expert. Your only consideration, and I mean only, should be making the most powerful experience 0 deck you can make. Scenario one is by far the most important. This is one reason .45 Thompson is better than Runic Axe. Your deck will not be meaningfully different after the first and second scenario.

The Chaos Bag. Keeping in mind we are building this deck for the first scenario and permitting the most inconsequential of spoilers, as a case study, let's say you have the starting Expert bag in "The Innsmouth Conspiracy" campaign and you are playing the Scenario 1, "The Pit of Despair." The bag will be as follows: 0, -1, -1, -2, -2, -3, -3, -4, -4, -5, -6, -8, , , , , , , , , , . The reference sheet for the scenario reads as follows.

  • : -2 (-3 instead if your location is flooded; -4 instead if your location is fully flooded).
  • : -2. If your location is flooded, take 1 damage.
  • : -2. If you control a key, take 1 horror.
  • : -3. If The Amalgam is in the depths, put it into play engaged with you.

Since this scenario's reference sheet is quite generous as far as modifiers are concerned (the random damage and horror isn't pleasant on Mark,) let's assume the location is fully flooded, (-4 is a frequently seen number on Hard/Expert reference sheets.) This would mean that in the bag functionally contains the following.

  • Elder Sign: 1 of 22 (4.55%) tokens
  • +0: 1 of 22 (4.55%) tokens, 9.1% chance of this result or better.
  • -1: 2 of 22 (9.09%) tokens, 18.19% chance of this result or better.
  • -2: 6 of 22 (27.27%) tokens, 45.46% chance of this result or better.
  • -3: 4 of 22 (18.18%) tokens, 63.64% chance of this result or better.
  • -4: 4 of 22 (18.18%) tokens, 81.82% chance of this result or better.
  • -5: 1 of 22 (4.55%) tokens, 86.37% chance of this result or better.
  • -6: 1 of 22 (4.55%) tokens, 90.92% chance of this result or better.
  • -8: 1 of 22 (4.55%) tokens, 95.47% chance of this result or better.
  • Automatic Failure: 1 of 22 (4.55%) tokens.

Let's assume you are an investigator attempting to get clues using basic investigate actions. In the abstract, what you stand to lose from a failure is an action, which is wasted attaining no positive or negative result (besides the "loss" of an action.) Each asset or committed card grants a certain percentage of a "successful action" equal the the difference of the likelihood of success before and after the advantage. The most valuable "jump" then is from requiring a -1 to succeed to requiring a -2 to succeed, but considering there are a limited amount of actions you can take, the game is not won on the back of 45.46% percent. What's more, is that often more is at stake than the waste of an action, one use of a Fingerprint Kit for example. So you want a higher percent chance, but how high? The only notable increases in the odds of achieving a favorable outcome is improving from requiring a -1 to succeed to requiring a -2, requiring a -2 to succeed to requring a -3, and -requiring a -3 to succeed to requiring a -4. Requiring a -4 or better to succeed and a -5 to succeed is so similar as to functionally be identical. It is not worth investing any resource to get a mere 4.55% advantage. The difference from succeeding on a -3 to a -4 is greater than that of succeeding on a -4 to a -8. We could perform case studies on a number of campaigns, but I ask you to suspend your disbelief and trust that this is roughly representative of the larger field. Especially in the first three scenarios, our goal then is achieve a passive that is four higher than our enemies. The vast majority of enemies in Arkham Horror, especially those in the first three scenarios, will have a of 2, 3, or 4, let's say they are in equal number, and somewhere between 1 and 5 hit points, most likely 2 or 3. Since 2 is twice 1 and 1 is only half of 2, we need to be dishing out at least 2 damage and fighting with a passive of 7. (It isn't the end of the world if we can't passively deal with 4+ enemies on a -4 token draw, seeing as we'll have skill cards to commit to tests and Sophie.)

A Brief Aside. It is curious that deckbuilding changes from difficulty to difficulty because the difference is innately the modifiers on skill tests and, when you are talking about the most dramatic jump, that from Normal to Hard, certain effects of symbolic chaos tokens that do not simply modify the result. Think about how the and are the same across difficulties while , , , and only have an "Easy/Normal" and a "Hard/Expert" reference card. This means that drawing the latter symbolic chaos tokens is most unfortunate on Easy and Hard, where they are most different from the numeric tokens, and least detrimental on Normal and Expert, where they are most similar to the numeric tokens. The Black Cat and Jim Culver are thus best on Easy and Hard and worst on Normal and Expert. If you are playing on Easy, one might look at a card like Scene of the Crime and say "Why would I take this? I could just pick up the clues with an action or two?" then look at a weapon like a Shotgun and say, "My God! this just evaporates any enemy." I'm always happy to see scenarios incorporate more to the difficulty (starting Doom on the agenda, etc.) The game could've been designed such that, say, during the Mythos phase, each investigator draws one encounter card on the basic difficulty and two on the challenge-mode. That would also affect deckbuilding but in a much different way. The increase in enemies per round would make cards like Evidence! and Scene of the Crime or Dynamite Blast, Mk 1 Grenades, and Cunning Distraction better. It's worth considering that on Normal, many Treachery cards can be succeeded on chance a reasonable percentage of the time on the merits of an investigator's base skill values without committing cards. Since it takes so much in a stat to be reliable on Expert, often you just have to accept suffering the worst effects of Treachery cards. This makes cards like Counterespionage and Ward of Protection much better and mitigates the downside of an investigator like Preston Fairmont's statline. Since most investigators would fail a random (3) check, it's less bad to have a of only 1. Having only one investigator is a bit of a odd situation that it always seems that the game is only half-prepared for (vis-à-vis why so many prefer just playing "two-handed") but in multiplayer, each investigator you have beyond the second makes the game easier. Difficulty is a nebulous concept in Arkham, but I think it's fair to say that a party of four investigators playing on Expert difficulty have similar odds at success as do a party of two investigators playing on Hard difficulty, all other factors being equal. I have no real complaints about the way things are, it, in fact, is a good way of making a wide range of cards relevant, because circumstance varies. All of this is important to think about during deck construction. Here we are constructing a deck for Expert play assuming a party of four but there is no reason this deck would be ineffective by any means on Normal with a party of two.

Mark's Effect. He has the worst kind of effect in Arkham, one that merely increases the margin of success. It might be helpful for a Treachery card, but you weren't electing to take many tests where a -4 would fail and the most desperate hail Marys are made where only a -2 or better would succeed. You'll sometimes get huge results off it so this does ever so slightly encourage him to take cards that benefit from margin of success (something he was already encouraged to do because of his high base value and Sophie's ability.) I'd be tempted to move into an Old Shotgun build with experience, especially with Practice Makes Perfect and The Home Front, but the bag on Expert makes it less appealing when I can eventually just put Custom Ammunition on a .45 Thompson and have more ammo, dealing three damage per attack at any margin to the majority of enemies that have hit points.

Shell Shocked. There is literally no investigator in the game of Arkham who suffers more from mental and physical trauma than Mark. It's all the rage, but don't take In the Thick of It. It would be awesome to go into scenario one with an upgraded .45 Thompson that you can draw off Prepared for the Worst, but you're just in such a worse spot no matter how you divide up the trauma. Avoid being defeated in scenarios at all costs and don't take In the Thick of It.

But I Don't Own X! What Could I Add?

  • Perception. In a four investigator game, anyone could add Perception. You can commit it to your Map the Area maybe get it off Practice Makes Perfect, but more likely, hand it off. Nowhere on the card does it say you can't commit it to allies' tests, it's always good.
  • Beat Cop. Does his duty. It's perfectly fine to run em' even if you have two copies of Grete. You can pitch the cop using his fast ability when you want to play the better ally, who may die for that last clue, freeing you up to play the cop, and you can of course just assign lethal damage to either.
  • First Aid. Inefficient use of time, but it will help you flip Sophie back over and give the deck more leeway to take advantage of her effect and Mark's .
  • Evidence!. No reason you can't pitch in more with the clue game.
  • Whatever You Want! Don't try and find analogous, subpar cards, just run what you find effective. You know the parties you play with better than I do.

Experience. The following is a basic outline for your how you want to spend experience on Mark throughout the course of a multiplayer campaign.

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